Taking Care Of Your Family While You’re In Rehab

Addiction has a rippling effect, not only impacting the life of the individual with the substance use disorder (SUD) but their loved ones as well. A common barrier to treatment is fact that many of those considering rehab are often caretakers and have children, extended family, and pets to look after.

Fortunately, there are many options to make sure your loved ones are taken care of during your time in addiction treatment. Knowing that they are safe allows you to to concentrate fully on your recovery and reunite with them as a sober, healthier you.

Caring For Children While In Rehab

Finding a trusted caregiver to watch your children can be difficult, especially if the time is extended. However, several childcare options are available while you are in treatment.

Family Involvement

Looking to extended family for help caring for your children is often the most tangible solution if the situation allows. Ideally, they are people your children already know and are comfortable with. If you are in this situation, you may ask for help from your:

  • Spouse
  • Significant other
  • Parents or in-laws
  • Siblings
  • Close friends

These options will generally provide a familiar face for your children and help them feel secure and safe while you’re in treatment. The stronger the bond with family and relatives, the more stability and continuity can be achieved.

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Utilizing Daytime Childcare Services

If the people you typically rely on have other obligations, such as work or school, daytime childcare may help fill the gap. Some treatment centers offer on-site childcare services or can connect you with local childcare resources. The staff of these centers are professionals who will provide your children with a safe, nurturing environment while you attend therapy sessions or participate in other aspects of your treatment program.

Nonprofit And Government Childcare Options

Many nonprofit organizations and government agencies exist to help a person seeking treatment take care of their children.

Safe Families for Children is a volunteer-based organization that finds temporary homes for children whose parents are unable to care for them due to circumstances like entering rehab. The caretakers are volunteer families screened by the nonprofit. This ensures their safety and care during your stay in rehab. The advantage of these programs is that they allow biological parents to maintain custody of their children during and after treatment while still providing a nurturing environment for the children.

As a last resort, placing children in foster care may be an option in your state. This is a voluntary transfer of the care and custody to the Department of Children’s Services. If you choose this route, you will sign a Voluntary Placement Agreement (VPA) and may be responsible for paying child support each month.

While this may feel like a drastic decision, the goal is to get well and get the family back together as quickly as possible. The key is to stay committed to the terms of the VPA, attend any required court hearings, and maintain communication with your child as much as possible.

Going this route is understandably scary, but it is an option. Remember, getting sober is the best thing you can do for yourself and your child.

Can I Take My Kids To Rehab With Me?

If your support system is limited or nonexistent, some treatment centers may offer daycare as well as residential accommodations for your children so that they can be with you. Similar to daycare, these residential programs provide counseling and support services for children. While not widely available, these family-oriented programs can be a valuable option for those who cannot find alternative care for their children during treatment. Each treatment center is different, so you will need to ask if they offer this and make arrangements ahead of time.

Talking To Your Kids About Going To Rehab

Communicating and being upfront with the child when a parent is going to rehab is important. How you approach the situation will depend on the child’s age and your relationship with them, but not discussing it with them can be devastating. This can lead to the child feeling abandoned and can have lifelong consequences. One common outcome of such abandonment is that the child may blame themselves for what is happening.

To avoid this, here are some guidelines to follow when having this difficult conversation:

  • Educate yourself about addiction and rehab first. The more you understand the process, the easier it will be to explain it to your child in a way they can comprehend.
  • When explaining, use age-appropriate language that they will understand. Leave out complicated medical jargon or overly detailed explanations that may confuse or frighten them.
  • Pick the right time and place to have the conversation. Choose a calm environment with minimal distractions, where you can have their undivided attention.
  • Acknowledge their feelings and the impact your addiction has had on them. Apologize if your behavior has hurt them in any way.
  • Be honest and open to questions. Children often have many curiosities and concerns. Communicating with them as openly and honestly as possible without overwhelming them with too much information is essential.
  • Emphasize that what is happening is not their fault and they cannot control anyone’s behavior. Children often internalize feelings of guilt or responsibility when a parent struggles with addiction, and it’s crucial to reassure them that this is not the case.

While discussing going to rehab with your children may be challenging and uncomfortable, these tips can help you have a caring, positive conversation.

The “7 Cs” For Your Child To Remember

The National Association for Children of Alcoholics has created a tool to help children understand and cope with a parent’s substance abuse issues. These “7 Cs” remind children that they are not the cause of the problem. They guide how to take care of themselves during this difficult time. Go over these with your children as much as possible, as they can be helpful the more they internalize them:

  • I didn’t Cause it.
  • I can’t Cure it.
  • I can’t Control it.
  • I can take better Care of myself by communicating my feelings,
  • Making healthy Choices, and
  • Celebrating me.
  • Being the Child of an addicted person is not my fault.

The “7 Cs” can help your child understand that your addiction is not their responsibility and that they have the power to take care of themselves emotionally and physically, even when you are away getting the help you need.

Giving Support To Your Spouse While In Rehab

Deciding to go to rehab is a huge step that involves much self-analysis and reflection, and oftentimes, loved ones are part of the process. It is important to involve your spouse, partner, or significant other as much as possible during your recovery process.

Participating In Family Therapy And Other Forms Of Addiction Therapy

Family therapy helps family members understand the impacts of addiction, develop coping strategies, and work together toward the goal of sustained sobriety. In cases of addiction, the entire family is often affected by the disease. These therapy sessions provide an opportunity for recognition of everyone’s feelings and for healing and growth to occur in all family members.

Online therapy can be a beneficial aspect of aftercare treatment by bringing flexible and supportive counseling services to the comfort of your home, allowing you and your loved ones to attend family therapy while maintaining regular schedules.

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Taking Care Of Parents, Siblings, And Other Loved Ones

You may have taken on the responsibility of caring for elderly parents or have a sibling or other relatives living with and depending on you. As with children and your partner, seeking help from family and friends is the first step. If that is not an option, then temporary placement in a long-term care facility, assisted living, or nursing home may be the most beneficial option.

Specific steps you can take:

  • Consult with social workers or case managers to find available resources locally.
  • Consider respite care services, which provide temporary relief for caregivers, allowing you to attend rehab without disrupting the care of your dependents.
  • Adult daycare centers or adult day health services offer supervised care during the day while you attend rehab.
  • If your dependent has specific medical needs, look into skilled nursing facilities or specialized care facilities that can accommodate those requirements.
  • Ensure that all legal documents, such as power of attorney or guardianship papers, are filed to facilitate decision-making during your absence.
  • Communicate openly with your dependents, if possible, to help them understand the situation and alleviate any anxiety or concerns they may have.

Remember, seeking professional help and utilizing available resources can ensure that your dependents receive proper care while you focus on your recovery.

Part of recovery is developing new insights into our empathy for others. If you have responsibilities to parents, grandparents, siblings, or disabled relatives or friends, have honest conversations with them. Options for caring for them should be more straightforward than for children. There are adult daycare centers, nursing homes, and assisted living programs that can often be financed through government programs such as Medicare and Medicaid.

Pet Care Options While In Rehab

Finding pet care can be just as challenging as finding care for children. If family or friends cannot help, several other options may offer a solution.

One option is long-term boarding at a pet facility. Another is to hire a pet sitter, which may be a better option, especially for pets requiring minimal care, such as cats or fish. Pet sitters will visit your home a determined number of times each day or week to perform care duties like feeding, cleaning litter boxes, and providing basic attention.

For pets that require more attention, like dogs, it is often possible to find sitters who will take your pet into their home until you return. Your pet will be more comfortable and receive the attention it is used to. Whatever option you find suitable, other than keeping the pet with you, it is important to provide detailed care instructions, emergency contact information for your veterinarian, and your pet’s medical records to whoever will be caring for them during your time in rehab. It’s also a good idea to notify your veterinarian that your pet will be in the care of another person for the duration of your program in case any medical issues arise.

If you’re worried about the expense of pet care while you’re in rehab, other resources are available. For example, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) runs Pawsitive Recovery, a program that provides temporary pet care and supplies for pets of those in addiction treatment. Pawsitive Recovery will find a safe, suitable foster home for your pet, while ensuring reunification after the completion of your program. This is often a more affordable option that can give you peace of mind knowing that your pet is safe while you’re away.

Can I Bring My Pet To Rehab?

If leaving a pet while seeking addiction treatment is not an option, some treatment centers allow patients to bring them along. This arrangement may not be commonly available, but it is becoming more common as the human-animal bond becomes more recognized. As with other specific accommodations, it’s important to talk to your chosen treatment center to see if they provide this arrangement. If you cannot find a center that allows your pet to stay with you full-time, some may permit visitation hours when your pet can be brought to the facility to visit with you.

Visitation With Loved Ones During Rehab

In the early stages of recovery in rehab, programs might recommend initially limiting contact with others and having some solitude to reflect on one’s situation. To help you adjust, keep you safe, and provide you with an environment of quiet and solitude, visitors and any form of communication — email, texts, or phone calls, for example — are typically not allowed for three to seven days after your arrival.

Once the initial waiting period is over, most rehabs offer visitation hours.

After this waiting period, visitation is offered in many ways. Some programs allow daily visitation during free time, while others offer weekly or monthly visitation. The length of visitation also varies by program.

To see you, visitors may have to be approved by a counselor and added to a visitor list. Check your center’s policies to ensure your loved ones meet the requirements for visitation.

Communicating With Your Loved Ones From Rehab

Beyond in-person visitation, there are typically several ways to stay in touch with your loved ones while in rehab. Centers typically allow phone calls as well as internet and email access during designated times. It can also be an opportunity to discover or rediscover the experience of writing and sending letters through the mail.

Some facilities may also allow your loved ones to send care packages, although these will likely be opened and inspected by staff beforehand for safety reasons. You need to check with the administration about any prohibited items that cannot be included in care packages, such as over-the-counter medications and toiletries that contain alcohol (e.g., some mouthwashes and perfumes).

If you participate in family therapy sessions, you will have contact and interaction with your loved one for a sustained, meaningful time.

Helping Your Family Financially During Treatment

The cost of addiction treatment can be a significant financial burden, especially if your family loses a source of income while you’re in rehab. However, there are several steps you can take to help mitigate the financial impact on your loved ones during this time. Steps you may be able to take include:

  • Speak with your employer about using any remaining paid time off or sick days you have accrued. If you have enough saved up, you may still receive a partial paycheck for some or all of your time in treatment.
  • Ask for help from your friends and family members. You may be surprised by how many people are willing to donate towards your treatment or your family’s living expenses while you are away.
  • Check with your health insurance provider to see if they cover all or part of your addiction treatment costs. Many insurance plans, including Medicare and Medicaid, as well as those offered through the Affordable Care Act, now provide coverage for substance abuse treatment.
  • Look into your employer’s benefits package to see if they offer short-term disability coverage, and if that policy covers drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs.
  • If your treatment center offers payment plans or financing options, take advantage of those to make the costs more manageable over time.

If your family does fall behind on bills while you are in rehab, contact your creditors — utility companies or lenders, for example — to explain the situation and ask for an extension or to change the due date for payments. Many organizations understand the challenges those in recovery face and may be willing to work with you.

Addiction Treatment Options For You And Your Loved Ones

Your concerns about going to rehab and being away from your loved ones are valid and expected. In the end, overcoming addiction is the only option for a better life. It is the best path for yourself and your loved ones.

Contact a treatment provider today to discuss the rehab options available for you or your loved ones. A comprehensive plan will help you start your journey to recovery with peace of mind.